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Oklahoma v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

Citation: 40 ELR 20253
No. No. 09-5134, (10th Cir., 09/21/2010) Motion to intervene denied

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision denying a Native American tribe's motion to intervene in a dispute between Oklahoma and a poultry company regarding the company's alleged disposal of poultry waste in the Illinois River watershed. The state sought monetary and injunctive relief. More than three years into the litigation, the company moved to dismiss the state's monetary claims on the ground that the tribe was a required party that had not been joined. The state argued that the tribe was not a required party but nevertheless negotiated an agreement in which the tribe purportedly assigned the state its interests in the litigation. The lower court ruled that the agreement was invalid and granted the company's motion to dismiss, restricting the case to the state's claims for injunctive and other equitable relief. Nineteen days before trial, the tribe moved to intervene so that it could proceed on claims against the company for injunctive and monetary relief. The lower court properly denied the motion as untimely. Although the tribe filed its motion after learning that the state could not adequately represent its interests in the litigation, the tribe had delayed too long. From the outset of the litigation, the tribe had no reason to believe that the state would represent its interests in monetary relief.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 39 ELR 20162.]